Wherever we travel, hubby and I like to find an Indian restaurant and try the food out. Not just because we like to eat it, but primarily because we like to see how authentic is the Indian cuisine prepared in that country, how popular Indian food is in that country and also because it tells you a little about the tastes of the people of that city and their willingness to experiment and try out a different cuisine...
We asked the Guest Relations at Sheraton about a good, really good quality Indian restaurant. It appears that there were 3 Indian restaurants (all branches of the same) by the name of Taj Mahal (romance & exotica personified, at least in the name!) in Damascus, and the hotel limousine took us to the biggestest and supposedly the best of them all.
Now the restaurant was not huge but had maybe around 10 covers of 4 seats each..I am begining to suspect that like airports, Indian restaurants all over the world have a prototype consisting of dark ornately carved chairs, lots of pichwai paintings on the wall and tons of brass and copperware! Dunno why!
The staff at the restaurant was very pleasant and helpful, a big change from the otherwise quiet Syrians that we had come across...the owner was an influential local Syrian, the proof being a photograph of him with the Syrian President rather prominently displayed in the restaurant!
I believe the owner and his family had taken a holiday in India over 10 years ago and they just loved the local cuisine. So taken up was he with it, that he decided to open an Indian restuarant back home to remind him of his delightful holiday! Since he would need an Indian Chef to cook Indian food, he decided to enjoy Indian hospitality to the hilt, and decided to bring back with him, the chefs of the hotel that he was staying in!
...and so began a rather profitable love affair with Indian cuisine for him...but I must admit I am glad that he did cos it was really nice to have familiar food after having feasted for days at an end on mezze and bread! Being a vegetarian can really be a curse, especially in the Levant!
The food, surprisingly, was good and reasonably authentic. My son actually devoured large quantities of veggies which are normally partaken after a huge battle of wills! lol!
As we ate our food, to our surpise the place started to fill quite quickly, and, clearly many of the customers were regulars. What I really liked was the attitude and service of the two guys handling the place, taking the orders, making conversation, suggesting food and generally sharing a laugh or two with the clientele - made the entire dining experience so much more special....
So if you are dying for a taste of home in Damascus, then you need to head to Taj Mahal restaurant and eat your fill!!